Decoding disordered eating and bad body image thoughts starts with doing detective work. The obsessive preoccupation with eating and weight is a coping mechanism to deal with discomfort. A bad body thought is a way of translating our discomfort when we lack the language to decode what is really behind the familiar disordered thoughts.
If we know that our thinking is powerful beyond belief, and we are working towards healing our body image and disordered eating, we must start with the way we speak to ourselves. Below is a 4 step process to help identify, refute and reframe bad body image thoughts to help renew your mind. I use it almost daily to check my thoughts.
Step One: RECOGNIZE
The first step is to recognize, and become aware. Ask yourself, what type of discomfort is taking place? When we begin obsessing about our body, or how bad we are for eating a certain item we are usually trying to displace some emotional discomfort from somewhere else. Bad body thoughts, are abusive. Keep a record of your recollection and try to imagine saying them to you best friend, mother or little sister. Soon, you’ll start to see a pattern and can avoid triggering situations.
Step Two: RECALL
Once you have identified the feeling or thought, dig deep to think about a time where you may have felt this in the past. Our brains are wired to the core beliefs we hold about ourselves, many of which are untrue as they were influences by a variety of factors in childhood. See if you can identify the core belief you were taught and how it made you feel then. Acknowledge that there was nothing you could do then, but there is something you can do now.
Step Three: REFUTE
Refute the core belief you hold and replace it with truth about your present self. Repeat that you had no control over how you felt in the past, but you do have control over who you are now and how you think and feel about yourself. Challenge these core beliefs and assumption by holding them up to cultural ideals. For example, “Who tells me that being a size 10 is wrong? Where did I learn this? Who says that being a size 6 is right? Why?”
Step Four: REFRAME
Once you’ve explored the backstory of where your core belief is learned from and have decoded it, you now have the freedom to reframe it. Instead of shaming yourself for having another bad body thought, you can use the experience for further growth and exploration. The more you explore, identify and become aware of your thoughts, the more compassion and understanding you will breed on your way to full acceptance of your body, and the more awareness of self you will have.